How to choose a tiebreaker for your March Madness Bracket

After selecting the winners of 63 matches – scientifically of course – most matches for the last match place one last hurdle between you and your expected winnings: a break-even question that you ask to predict the final score of the championship match.

(Some matches ask for each team’s score, while others ask for a total combined score.)

There is probably little chance that the winner of your pool will be determined by the tiebreaker. But you are determined to win, so you need to make sure you get this one right.

Here is a simple analysis to get to the last 20 men’s championship matches, from 2000 to 2019:

  • The average winning team’s score was 76, and the average was 74.85.

  • The median losing team’s score was 69, and the average was 66.15.

  • The average total combined score was 144, and the average was 141.

The averages were dragged through the low-scoring championship game in 2011, when Connecticut beat Butler 53-41, widely regarded as one of the worst title games in recent memory. If you want to exclude the outlier, you can add one or two points to the numbers above.

That said, many people think Gonzaga will be in the championship game this year – and the Bulldogs averaged 92.1 points per game this season. Baylor and Illinois, two other number 1 seeds that Gonzaga could possibly face in the final, averaged 84.4 and 81.4 points, respectively.

The women title game scores larger gaps between the winners and losers: the average score was 74.5 points for the winning team, 59 points for the losing team and 133.5 combined points. But given the tie between the top-ranked teams this year, there might be a tougher final.

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